Sharp Criticism of the Federal Environment Minister

Bonn, 26.01.1999

Dr Wilfried Steuer, the President of the German Atomic Forum, in his opening speech to the Forum`s Winter Conference, voiced sharp criticism of Jürgen Trittin, the Federal Environment Minister, and said that the Minister had started a war on a number of fronts at once, and was provoking conflict within the Federal Government, between the Federal Government and the States, and between Germany and the international community, meaning France and Great Britain in particular. Dr Steuer expressed his conviction that Trittin "is going to suffer a number of bitter defeats" through his actions.

The President of the Atomic Forum went on to say: "The row between the Federal Environment Minister and the Federal Economics Minister was only a tiny foretaste of what the government is likely to run into. Trittin tabled an amendment to the Nuclear Act and asked his colleagues for their considered point of view no later than Wednesday last week. Other ministers have already stated that there is no way of keeping to this hectic timetable. Further disagreements within the Federal Government are inevitable.

Not only there, however, but also between Federal and State governments. Although the critical comments from two of the State Minister-Presidents, Mr Clement and Mr Glogowski, were soon officially pigeon-holed, the matter will certainly not be allowed to rest there. I can remember, for instance, a statement by Mr Glogowski, according to which electricity is to be generated by nuclear power plants in Lower Saxony for at least another 20 years. Ms Hintz, the State Environment Minister in Hesse, has warned the Federal Government against setting things in motion for which, as he said, `the States would have to bear the brunt`. The over-hasty return of German fuel elements from foreign reprocessing, the return of plutonium and glassified highly radioactive waste, and intermediate storage near the nuclear power plant, would certainly come into this category.

Trittin is pursuing a totally unrealistic course, with regard both to waste disposal and in particular to reprocessing. He and the others involved have obviously not yet properly understood the chain reactions (metaphorically speaking) which their actions are setting off. He is creating chaos in waste disposal - perhaps even on purpose - and behaved in Paris and London like a bull in a china-shop. Relationships with France and Great Britain have already been seriously harmed. France is not only la grande nation but also a proud one, and will not put up with a German fundamental-Greenie leading them up the garden path. If Chancellor Schröder is to avoid further trouble with his opposite numbers, Mr Jospin and Mr Blair, he will have no alternative but to call his environment minister off as far as this question is concerned. Pacta sunt servanda ["treaties are there to be observed"], and international law is binding on this government just like all the others. And I have not yet even mentioned the consequences of this chaotic course of action on internal politics."


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